Global health chiefs were told yesterday to forget to craft pandemic powers that could force Britain into another isolation.
Parliamentarians, a minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed concern about the World Health Organization trying to impose protocols on member states in future outbreaks.
They fear that the UN agency wants to “transition from an advisory organization to an international control authority.” It is negotiating new rules to deal with pandemics and has a deadline of next May for a legally binding deal.
The WHO was branded a ‘puppet of China’ by donald trump and critics during the pandemic for not having challenged Beijing about his early handling of the health crisis.
Among its proposed amendments is a requirement for the UN’s 194 member countries to recognize it as the world authority on public health measures. If approved, it is feared it would allow the WHO to impose border closures, quarantines, lockdowns or vaccine passports on member countries.
The WHO was called a ‘China puppet’ by Donald Trump and critics during the pandemic for failing to challenge Beijing over its early handling of the health crisis.
But MPs sent a letter to the Foreign Office asking it to block powers that “appear to materially intrude on the UK’s ability to make its own rules and control its own budgets.”
Organized by Esther McVey, the letter calls for a Commons vote on the draft treaty and regulations.
“There is, rightly, growing concern about the WHO pandemic treaty and international health regulations,” said Ms McVey.
‘The plans represent a significant shift for the organisation, from a member-led advisory body to a health authority with enforcement powers.
“This is especially concerning given the WHO’s poor record of providing consistent, clear and scientifically sound advice for managing international disease outbreaks.”
Organized by Esther McVey, the letter calls for a vote in the House of Commons on the draft treaty and regulations.
Conservative MPs Sir John Redwood, David Davis, Philip Davies, Sir Christopher Chope and Danny Kruger also signed the letter.
Foreign Secretary Andrew Mitchell told the Daily Telegraph: “The UK supports the pandemic treaty currently being negotiated by national governments, which could speed up the sharing of data on new pandemic threats so that we can respond quickly in the case of future pandemics
“We are clear that we would never agree to anything that crosses our points of principle on sovereignty or prevents the UK from taking decisive action against future pandemics.”
A Foreign Office source said: “Decisions about how to handle the global Covid pandemic came down to decisions made by individual sovereign governments, not global advisory bodies.” There are no plans to change that.
Molly Kingsley, founder of UsForThem, which has campaigned against school closures and classroom masks, said: “This is a truly unprecedented land grab by the WHO.” You have to ask, who is the WHO to grant itself powers?
She said the UK government’s response justified her group’s concerns about the proposed WHO regulations.
The agency has been criticized for praising China’s response to Covid, for taking too long to call the outbreak an international emergency and for advising countries not to impose travel bans. His investigation into the origins of Covid, which decided the Wuhan lab leak theory was “extremely unlikely”, was widely seen as a cover-up.
Its CEO has since called for a new investigation, saying: “All hypotheses remain open and require further study.”
A WHO spokesman said: ‘This is a process led by sovereign states and the WHO secretariat is facilitating the negotiations.
‘As with all international instruments, any amendments, as long as they are agreed by the member states, will be determined by the governments themselves, who will take any action considering their own national laws and regulations.’